My Take: With Olympics, we yearn to be like gods
August 11th, 2012
11:00 PM ET

My Take: With Olympics, we yearn to be like gods

Editor's Note: Joseph Loconte, Ph.D., is an associate professor of history at the King’s College in New York City and the author of The Searchers: A Quest for Faith in the Valley of Doubt.

By Joseph Loconte, Special to CNN

(CNN) The ancient Greeks, especially the frugal Spartans, would probably balk at the commercialism that saturates our modern Olympic Games. And it’s doubtful that either badminton or beach volleyball would satisfy their appetite for blood-and-guts competition.

Yet we share something with the Greeks every time we assemble for this great athletic contest: a desire to transcend the politics of the moment and reach beyond the ordinary limits of human achievement. That desire has been on full display during the London Summer Games.

Begun in 776 BC, the Olympic Games soon became so important to Greek life that conflicts between participating Greek city-states, which were constantly squabbling with one another, would be suspended until after the games. The great historian Thucydides described one such scene in his classic history of the Peloponnesian War.

“The whole gathering at the festival was terrified that the Spartans might arrive under arms…and it was thought that there would be a crisis,” he wrote. “The Spartans, though, fell quiet and let the festival pass without incident.”

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So, too, today, as nations put aside their political differences to compete in London. Why? And what makes us interrupt our daily routines to join this provocative world of triumph and tragedy?

Surely it’s not merely to see records shattered, which happened plenty this year, including Michael Phelps’ record for the most number of medals won by a single athlete.

The competitors who capture our hearts are those who achieve greatness because of their sacrifice, humility, and what the Greeks called arête, or heroic courage. No Greek Olympian achieved honor either by shrinking from adversity or by feeding his personal vanity. Then and now, glory seems the proper reward for the Olympian who embodies the classical virtues.

Think of the triumph of American sprinter Jesse Owens at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin. Nazi Germany, deep in the grip of racist ideology, directed its hatreds not only at Jews, but at all non-Aryans. Imagine the shock to Nazi Party elites when a black American, the son of a sharecropper and grandson of slaves, stared down fascist propaganda, bested his rivals and took home four gold medals.

Hitler was furious, but tens of thousands of ordinary Germans at the stadium that day cheered him on.

Although just a boy at the time, I remember how a 17-year-old Russian gymnast named Olga Korbut captured the world’s affections at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich. Cold War tensions were simmering, but the “sparrow from Minsk” enthralled the West not only with raw talent, but with charisma, innocence and contagious joy.

Olga Korbut almost singlehandedly shattered the Western stereotype of the Soviets as stoic, unfeeling automatons.

Or think of Manteo Mitchell, the American sprinter in London last week who said he was just “doing my job” when he completed a 400-meter relay knowing he had broken his leg long before the finish line. He couldn’t bear the thought of letting his teammates down; he soldiered on. “The only way he would have stopped,” said Coach Danny Williamson, “is if the leg had fallen off.”

This is why the Olympic Games retain such a powerful hold on our moral imagination: We get to see what human nature is capable of in its nobler moments. We witness something so remarkable that it shakes us loose from our preoccupations and prejudices.

Such moments reveal what Christian writer C.S. Lewis called “our inconsolable secret,” our universal longing to bridge a gulf between our ordinary lives and this extraordinary life set before us.

What is this longing, this nostalgia for a world that exists outside of our actual experience?

Recall that the original Olympics were awash in religious imagery. The games were dedicated to Zeus, the chief of the Greek gods. Priests were on hand at every event, offering sacrifices and benedictions. Victory wreaths were made from olive trees, considered sacred.

In the minds of the Greeks, the heights of human achievement were somehow linked to the divine: when athletes won glory, they stood in the presence of the gods.

It is easy for us, as sophisticated and secular people, to dismiss this thinking as the childish projections of a superstitious age. But perhaps the Greeks were onto something.

Perhaps, in all their striving, they revealed a stubborn truth about the human predicament. For there seems to be something common to societies and civilizations everywhere, lodged in our DNA, that reaches anxiously for another world: a community defined by strength, courage, justice, and love.

As Plato described it in The Republic: “The city we have founded, if we have built rightly, will be good in the fullest sense of the word.”

The Olympic Games help awaken in us the desire for this city, what Christian thinkers such as Augustine called “the city of God.” In the Christian story, the tragedy of the human condition is that each of us is forced to live outside of this celestial home.

We are cut off from the grace and beauty and love of God. We may view his city from afar, but we cannot enter. We may think we belong there, but we are treated as strangers.

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This sense of alienation and longing is hinted at in other religious traditions: in Buddhism’s attempt to escape the cycle of suffering, for example, or in Islam’s description of paradise, where the righteous “shall have all that they desire.” Each admits that something has gone terribly wrong in our world.

In the Christian hope, man’s tragic plight is overcome by God himself. We are given a promise that God would take on human frailty and make a way back to his sacred city. “I will bring them back to this land,” God announced through the prophet Jeremiah. “They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart.”

Is it possible that every time we rise to applaud our Olympic champions, we anticipate this final homecoming?

If so, then Olympic glory is a faint picture of divine glory: to be welcomed back into the heart of God, accepted, approved, honored and blessed.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Joseph Loconte.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: God • Opinion • Sports

soundoff (606 Responses)
  1. 111Dave111

    Mormon God is a Space Alien, LOL
    Mormons Baptize Dead People, L&LOL
    Mormon Religion, Big Money, Big Bigotry. L&L&LOL
    Mormon man in white underwear, a reference to special Mormon garments. L&L&L&LOL

    August 13, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
  2. Jake-413451

    Just an interesting aside.

    Hitler sent Jessie Owens a congratulatory note, FDR didn't.
    Hitler at least waved at him, FDR didn't.
    While Hitler may have been embaraased and thought black people shouldn't be allowed to compete, he thought so on grounds they were physically stronger. What excuse do we give for FDR?

    August 13, 2012 at 11:12 am |
    • The Force

      The force of racism in the USA was much stronger in that day than in Germany.. in more practical terms 🙂 🙂 🙂

      Also where's your proof that Hitler saluted the American...

      August 13, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
  3. Simran.M

    Just wondering what is the take of Atheists on Buddhism?

    (No, not acting evangelical here, but while some evangelists were trying hard to make me realize that Jesus is the only true God, I decided to read about concept of God in various religions and this one really appealed to me).

    August 13, 2012 at 1:31 am |
    • Simran.M

      Buddhism is a path of practice and spiritual development leading to Insight into the true nature of reality. Buddhist practices like meditation are means of changing yourself in order to develop the qualities of awareness, kindness, and wisdom.

      An enlightened being sees the nature of reality absolutely clearly, just as it is, and lives fully and naturally in accordance with that vision. This is the goal of the Buddhist spiritual life, representing the end of suffering for anyone who attains it.

      Because Buddhism does not include the idea of worshipping a creator god, some people do not see it as a religion in the normal, Western sense. The basic tenets of Buddhist teaching are straightforward and practical: nothing is fixed or permanent; actions have consequences; change is possible. So Buddhism addresses itself to all people irrespective of race, nationality, caste, se.xuality, or gender. It teaches practical methods which enable people to realise and use its teachings in order to transform their experience, to be fully responsible for their lives.

      August 13, 2012 at 1:32 am |
    • Damocles

      I always thought that if I was a believer, I'd go for something like Buddhism. The thing for me, at least, is that I don't feel the need for any religion to enhance my joy of my life. I live it, make mistakes, learn from them and move on. Is my life perfect? Of course not, but I take responsibility for my actions, I don't try to pass them off onto someone or something else.

      Now if you like the meditation aspect of certain religions, that's great, I meditate from time to time, but there's no real reason to attach a religious aspect to it.

      August 13, 2012 at 1:37 am |
    • Cq

      Reincarnation would prove a problem for most atheists, I think.

      Many atheists actually admire the teachings of Jesus. He did say a lot of wise things, and opposed religious authority of his time. Likely, as a devout Jew, he would be shamed immeasurably by people's elevating him godhood. In many ways it's similar to the compassion I feel towards the Jews baptized by Mormons. People should be allowed to rest at peace without others trying to redefine who they were in life. It's a crime against their memory to do otherwise.

      August 13, 2012 at 2:11 am |
    • Simran.M

      Reincarnation in Buddhism is often mistaken to mean the same as in Hinduism.



      August 13, 2012 at 5:58 am |
    • Simran.M

      Thnx for sharing. And I seem to agree, one can be spiritual without being religious.

      August 13, 2012 at 6:02 am |
    • HeavenSent

      Isn't that an excuse for not having to put your belief into practice... aka lazy

      August 13, 2012 at 7:37 am |
    • Simran.M

      There goes Heavensent, completely mixing spirituality with religion.
      I couldn't put it better than this author:
      "Spirituality is man’s relationship with the Divine. Religion is crowd control.” Succinctly, that’s the difference between the spiritual and the religious. The two aren’t merely dissimilar. They’re often polar opposites.


      August 13, 2012 at 8:12 am |
    • BRC

      I rather like the original form of Buddhism, where the Buddha is still thought of as a man, though a very wise man. I don't believe in reincarnation, and think that when we die all of our candles go out forever, but I like that the purpose of the religion seems to be introspection and leading a better life, not worshipping a diety adn telling other people how to lead theirs.

      Then of course people mucked it up and some started worshipping him as a god, which I obviously completely disagree with, but that's a different religion in my view.

      August 13, 2012 at 9:10 am |
    • Simran.M

      Heavensent, We will explore the differentials between these two concepts below:
      Some believe Spirituality is less concerned about intellectual beliefs, but more about the growing divine consciousness. On the other hand, Religion often adheres to a kind of dogmatic belief system.
      Many times religion shows us a God who punishes those who si.n, allowing many believers to be filled with guilt. In the spiritual path God is thought of as love; a love where there is no judgment – only acceptance. Si.ns are really just ignorance that is based on a misguided belief of who one really is.

      August 13, 2012 at 9:12 am |
    • Simran.M

      Religion believes that their path is the only one to salvation. Converting others to their faith feels necessary. In Spirituality, the belief is that “All fanaticism is false and that it is a contradiction of the nature of truth and of God, which cannot be shut up in any book, or Koran or Veda or any religion”.
      It is has been said that Spirituality is for people who can’t handle religion and religion is for people who can’t handle spirituality. Spirituality offers freedom. Religion on the other hand needs the disciplined structure of dogma. Spirituality is love-based and a religion is fear-based.

      August 13, 2012 at 9:13 am |
    • Cq

      I have trouble even with the Buddhist idea of reincarnation. The idea of karma lasting over a single lifetime and rebirth until we stop generating karma may not be anyone's idea of a great afterlife, but I don't see any reason to believe that this happens.

      August 13, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
    • SImran

      Cq, I too have never quite understood the Buddhist concept of reincarnation, to put it honestly.

      But still the odd instances of reincarnation in the Hinduism concept (some odd scattered stories, the work of Dr Ian Stevenson and past life regression work by some psychiatrists) often makes me wonder?

      August 13, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
    • SImran

      And then is the concept of quantum physics trying to explain the mystical.
      I read this great interview of Dr Goswami once (a quantum physicist) –

      August 13, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
    • Cq

      They use suggestion and hypnosis in past life regression work, tools that have been successfully used by mediums and stage performers, so I feel fairly comfortable in my skepticism of reincarnation.

      August 14, 2012 at 12:33 am |
  4. MagicPanties

    I am the god of hellfire, and I bring you...

    August 13, 2012 at 12:12 am |
    • Damocles


      August 13, 2012 at 1:38 am |
    • HeavenSent

      We have an Iron Butterfly fan on site.

      August 13, 2012 at 7:39 am |
  5. Reality

    And gods close their games: But keep in mind there are gods of doping from believe it or not strycnine (Smithsonian's review of Olympic doping) to the latest, gene manipulation. Gods indeed!!!

    August 12, 2012 at 11:24 pm |
  6. TheVocalAtheist

    Would it be more palatable to the religious if an atheist called themselves a skeptic? I think there might be a hang-up with the word atheist and it's definition due to the fact that the religious have a perception that atheism is a religion.

    August 12, 2012 at 10:33 pm |
    • LinCA


      You said, "Would it be more palatable to the religious if an atheist called themselves a skeptic?"
      Just when some have finally figured out how to spell "atheist" (and not "athiest"), you want to confuse them again and get them to spell "skeptic"? Any idea how many ways you can misspell that?

      August 12, 2012 at 10:39 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Haha. No matter how many we can come up with, you can bet some wackaloon will invent a new one.

      August 12, 2012 at 10:41 pm |
    • TheVocalAtheist


      I'll try anything to get through. Maybe infiltrate as a believer?

      August 12, 2012 at 10:43 pm |
    • LinCA


      You said, "I'll try anything to get through. Maybe infiltrate as a believer?"
      You wouldn't be the first, but are you sure the pain and suffering are worth it?

      August 12, 2012 at 10:47 pm |
    • TheVocalAtheist

      Oh, f*uck it, I'll just start a little business called Dear God. People will send in letters (like to Santa Claus) and ask for direction and answers and I'll charge for a response. I bet you I could make a pretty little penny.

      August 12, 2012 at 10:48 pm |
    • LinCA


      You said, "Oh, f*uck it, I'll just start a little business called Dear God. People will send in letters (like to Santa Claus) and ask for direction and answers and I'll charge for a response. I bet you I could make a pretty little penny."
      Fucking brilliant! If you can't cure them, might as well rich off of them.

      August 12, 2012 at 10:51 pm |
    • TheVocalAtheist


      I tell you what. You be God (I'll pay you well) and answer the letters, in turn I will take care of all the other details and I'd say we could go 75/25 since I have to do all the accounting and taxes. I'll pay you under the table. Wait a minute! We could be tax exempt for crying out loud! Holy Sh*it!

      August 12, 2012 at 10:59 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Please promise that you won't sign your responses "God Bless" or Amen."

      August 12, 2012 at 11:01 pm |
    • TheVocalAtheist

      @Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son
      "Please promise that you won't sign your responses "God Bless" or Amen."

      Come on now, we cannot deviate from the norm, it would throw them for a loop!

      August 12, 2012 at 11:03 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Well, at least cross your fingers when you write it!

      August 12, 2012 at 11:04 pm |
    • TheVocalAtheist

      You could get cruel, I don't propose it but could you imagine someone writing in to God saying "Dear God, I'm confused." and God would respond "What the fu*ck? So am I, suck it up moron!"

      August 12, 2012 at 11:07 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Kinda like the NYC native response to tourists.

      Tourist to NYC native: "I'm lost."

      NYC native: "Glad I'm not you."

      August 12, 2012 at 11:13 pm |
    • TheVocalAtheist

      Gotta love that NYC warm and fuzzy feeling!

      August 12, 2012 at 11:17 pm |
    • save the world and slap some sense into a christard today!

      VA asked: "Would it be more palatable to the religious if an atheist called themselves a skeptic?"

      That would be confusing I think. Because if one doesn't necessarily refute the existence of a all-powerful spiritual being, but is just skeptical about it and says they would believe it if it were made apparent or were later proven to them, then that would make them an agnostic.

      August 12, 2012 at 11:18 pm |
    • Cq

      When it comes to Zeus, Thor, Ra and all other gods that people have worshipped, even the Hindu gods that a lot of people still do worship, there is no "skepticism" for the typical Christian, Jew or Muslim. They don't wonder whether they are worshipping the correct god. They don't even really humour those who do. These faiths are based on the belief that there was only ever one real god, and only they worship him. They know these other gods don't really exist. So, if they are allowed this level of full atheism towards other gods why should they be offended by atheism towards their own? That would be hypocritical, would it not?

      August 13, 2012 at 1:07 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Cq, the latter group have certain knowledge that they correctly worship the one true God, and their beliefs provide no basis for tolerance of people who do not, including atheists. We can't call them hypocritical for thinking that way except if they are inconsistent – as when fundamentalist Christians embrace Mitt Romney as a brother in Christ. There's been a lot of that lately.

      August 13, 2012 at 1:19 am |
    • Cq

      Tom, Tom, the Other One
      They have no more knowledge about God than they have about any other god. They claim to have this knowledge, and there are neo-pagans who claim to have knowledge of the other gods as well. Even the three Abrahamic traditions would argue that they don't really all worship the same God. Jews and Muslims deny the divinity of Jesus, Christians and Jews deny the claims of Muhammad that the Qur'an was the final message from God, and Jews deny the same claims being made by Christians. In turn, the Christians think that the Jews failed to receive Jesus as the Messiah. The same God can't "work" in all three religions, so they all actually believe that the other two have God figured wrong; that they worship a false idea of God. If you break it down even more Catholics have a different idea of who God is in relation to their position than protestants do, and so on. When it comes right down to it worshipping false ideas about God (not their understanding of God) ends up being as bad as worshipping actual other gods in many believers minds. Surely, many would blame Satan's influence on causing both. So I don't really see how any of them could point fingers at someone else not accepting the idea of a god when they dismiss loads of ideas about other gods, and even their own, without any evidence to back it up.

      August 13, 2012 at 2:00 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Sorry ... I should have said that they believe that they have certain knowledge of the one true God. That belief is the thing Jews, Muslims and Christians have in common, not the knowledge they claim to have – which they do use to exclude each other.

      August 13, 2012 at 2:09 am |
    • HeavenSent

      It's not a perception. The Supreme Court recognizes atheism as a religion. It was you folks that whined to them when you requested the status.

      August 13, 2012 at 7:41 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Tom,Tom, the Other One, you are much more capable at interpreting legal language than I am. Perhaps you could enlighten the brain-dead evangelical on what the SCOTUS said about atheism and what it means.

      August 13, 2012 at 11:02 am |
  7. Turnaway

    Man's knowledge is soon ended; but God's knowledge is a dept that can never be fathomed. Case closed. Period.

    August 12, 2012 at 9:21 pm |
    • LinCA

      Blah, blah, blah. Case closed. Period.

      August 12, 2012 at 9:26 pm |
    • Prayer changed my oil. Alleluia, amen.

      I like to say "case closed", and "period", as it makes it seem that what I say is true, even though it's complete bs. Fact.

      August 12, 2012 at 10:05 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      'Nuff said.

      August 12, 2012 at 10:06 pm |
    • Simran.M

      Coz you can't agrue any further than this, so case closed period turnaway!
      Yeah right, it's in ur name!!!

      August 12, 2012 at 10:20 pm |
    • MagicPanties

      Would this be a department (dept) store like JC Penney?
      Does this have something to do with Ellen?

      August 13, 2012 at 12:11 am |
    • Cq

      Can I ask how it is you claim to know this?

      August 13, 2012 at 1:09 am |
  8. Chris

    You are kidding aren't you? A bunch of jocks are NOT gods!

    August 12, 2012 at 9:16 pm |
    • Keith

      Of course they aren't, the overwhelming majority of the athletes are decent, honourable people the exact opposite of any god.
      Tosay that athletes are like gods is an outright insult to them.
      I spit on all gods I come in contact with.

      August 12, 2012 at 9:33 pm |
    • The Force

      yes but the article is about the desire to be like or become gods..To become a god is a really easy thing to do .. all you have to do is keep trying forever! 🙂 🙂

      in this case if humanity were to have the opportunity to continue forever we would attain it.. The bible even suggests it in the story of the Tower of Babel ...there God takes action so prevent or blunt the attempt to reach his throne in the flesh by confounding the languages of man ..
      yet we have found a common language today......Mathematics and Physics ... applying logic man is now threatening to re-engage God on our own level again..

      What will God do? 🙂 🙂

      August 13, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
  9. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    August 12, 2012 at 9:09 pm |
    • MagicPanties

      Talking to imaginary beings is not healthy.

      August 12, 2012 at 9:16 pm |
    • Keith

      What a pile of horse manure, Atheism is the only thing that will eventually save the human race. Religion is based on fairy tales and lies and teaches hatred, blind stupidity and belief in a NON-EXISTENT being.
      How can that be GOOD, it can't it is evil

      August 12, 2012 at 9:29 pm |
    • truth be told

      Atheists have murdered more people in the last 100 years than were killed in all previous centuries , not quite a "world saving" non belief system at all.

      August 13, 2012 at 5:47 am |
    • Mirosal

      According to your own "holy book", wasn't it YOUR "god" who wiped out the ENTIRE planet with a flood, killing every living thing on this planet except for "Gilligan" and his boatload of animals? Kinda puts your "god" at the top of the "most killed in the name of" list doesn't it?

      August 13, 2012 at 6:10 am |
    • truth be told

      Yes ... read about the why. Based on the numbers atheists still have murdered more in the last 100 years than were executed for their crimes in the flood. Execution is not murder.

      August 13, 2012 at 6:15 am |
    • Mirosal

      Hey, dead is STILL dead, no matter the cause of the death. Name those you THINK killed others "in the name of Atheism" as their main reason for doing so.

      August 13, 2012 at 6:19 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      Yes Mirosal. I asked on a previous post for someone to list even one (1) name of a secular humanist mass murderer. I stipulated secular humanist because that's what most North American atheists identify with as their world view. None of their regular goto's.. Stalin, Pol Pot or Mao were anywhere close to humanists.

      August 13, 2012 at 6:33 am |
    • Mirosal

      Thank you Sir Steve. These people need to take a poli-sci course or two, once they finish that 3rd year of 6th grade that is.

      August 13, 2012 at 6:38 am |
    • Jesus

      Prayer does not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs! '

      August 13, 2012 at 11:17 am |
    • Cq

      truth be told
      I'm not defending Stalin, but you might want to put his brutality in some perspective. A big chunk of the number of people killed attributed to him comes from his shortsighted policies causing famine, his harsh treatment of his own soldiers during WWII, and the numbers of Axis soldiers his armies killed during that war. We, and the rest of the Allies killed more Axis soldiers during that war than the Russians, and don't forget that life under the Czars, and the Chinese Emperors as well, was also really brutal. You might want to research the Russian pogroms against Jews. Nothing like Hitler's treatment, mind you, but still pretty bad.

      So, in reality, the common factor seems to be that dictators have a poor reputation for treating citizens well, and their regimes can be Communist, Nazi, military dictatorships, anti-communist military dictatorships, Islamic monarchy, Islamic political party, or a host of other varieties including right-wing dictatorships which usually did have strong connections with local churches. Some absolute monarchies were just as brutal as some dictatorships, with the Church either taking an active role or merely being complacent. Democracies have the better track records when it comes to treatment of citizens and others, but that's about all that you can say.

      August 14, 2012 at 1:17 am |
  10. blinky

    The author lost me when he putr "Michael Phelps" and "humility" in consecutive sentences. Phelps is the embodiment of American hubris. He may be a great athlete, but he is the last person on earth you would call magnanimous in victory.

    August 12, 2012 at 9:04 pm |
  11. Autism is Funny

    The subconscious mind controls everything you do when you are sleeping and when you are awake.

    August 12, 2012 at 8:25 pm |
  12. Alan Page

    Absolute Idiotic headline with very pronounced traces of arrogance, lack of humbleness, megalomaniac some self euphoria and a bit childish. Also characteristics of a society right before a big collapse.

    August 12, 2012 at 8:01 pm |
    • Observer

      The end of the world! WRONG for thousands of years.

      August 12, 2012 at 8:07 pm |
    • The Force

      The just shall walk by faith and not by sight, rev. 🙂 🙂

      Let us not be so judgmental this is a religion forum and the article points out our desire to be like gods....
      it's a human condition...Me , I have already acquired the status..via Jesus Christ..who indicated that we are by citing Psalm 82:6 in John chapter 10: 34, I believe it is.. when he defended himself against those wormy Pharasees and Priests of the temple in Jerusalem

      August 13, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • The Force

      All Christians who are genuinely recognized by God are gods.. 🙂 🙂 🙂

      August 13, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
  13. Tom, Tom, the Other One

    Just a thought regarding Loconte's "we yearn to be like gods": If Loconte is the student of the Bible that the King's College wants it's people to be then he should know that Satan felt that way too and found it a useful weakness in Adam and Eve. The whole story of sin revolves around the desire to be "like the most high".

    August 12, 2012 at 7:46 pm |
    • Reason 77

      The whole story of original sin is insanity: 'The one thing "God" made off limits to Adam and Eve was the "tree of knowledge of good and evil". God considered seeking knowledge of good and evil a sin. God wanted Adam and Eve (and mankind) to remain ignorant.

      God held Adam and Eve accountable for making a "good" decision (obey God) when they did not have any understanding of the concept of good and evil.

      God put Satan (evil) in the garden. God did not watch over Adam and Eve.

      When God discovered that his creation (man) did not function as he desired, he punished it instead of fixing it.

      Pretty pathetic even for a myth.

      August 12, 2012 at 8:43 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      But it's a myth I think Loconte believes. It's a shame we can't have him on here.

      August 12, 2012 at 9:31 pm |
    • Simran.M

      "God wanted Adam and Eve (and mankind) to remain ignorant."
      Be kind to them, dont hit hard where it hurts the most. God wasn't, but u should!

      August 12, 2012 at 10:24 pm |
    • Cq

      Reason 77
      The point of the myth is to explain how evil entered the world. The paternalistic Hebrews, of course, blamed women just like the Greeks did in their myth of Pandora. That's why men should never be governed by women, or even take their advice. It's a pretty common theme in ancient mythology.

      August 13, 2012 at 1:45 am |
  14. PhilG

    Possibly the most idiotic headline of all time.

    Only a mortal would think that an accomplishment using the vessel that God provided for you would make you more "God Like".

    Try making something happen with only a thought and tell us how that turns out.

    August 12, 2012 at 7:43 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      I can't believe there are almost 500 posts on this topic!

      This piece is muddled and is garbage philosophy:

      In the headline: With Olympics, we yearn to be like gods (pagan panthesistic "lower case" gods)

      In the conclusion:.”Is it possible that every time we rise to applaud our Olympic champions, we anticipate this final homecoming" [of man's tragic plight, and the return to our Christian God, now uppercase, with all our heart].

      "If so, then Olympic glory is a faint picture of divine glory: to be welcomed back into the heart of God, accepted, approved, honored and blessed.

      The author is all over the map with his premise, pagan celebration, desire for reunion with Christian God, only then, but a 'pale shadow'. What a mess this is!

      In my first post I called it wackadoodle. That remains my observation.

      August 12, 2012 at 7:54 pm |
    • Prayer changed my oil. Alleluia, amen.

      Critical thinking is not something that happens much at King's College in New York. If you want another example, just look at the President of King's debate with Bart Ehrman, on YouTube. He basically says Christianity is true, and valid, as it's more "useful"... a weird form of Utilitarianism. The look on Ehrman's face is priceless. Like "you can't possibly be saying what I think you're saying". This guy has totally missed the point of the tragedy of "trying to become like gods". Ultimately he says it IS possible. How very strange.

      August 12, 2012 at 8:18 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      This is so disjointed, I'm scared of what his history class must be like. It makes me wonder if he sets books like David Barton's recently discredited "Jefferson Lies" as a text.

      The King's mission:
      Through its commitment to the truths of Christianity and a biblical worldview, The King’s College seeks to transform society by preparing students for careers in which they help to shape and eventually to lead strategic public and private inst'tutions, and by supporting faculty members as they directly engage culture through writing and speaking publicly on critical issues.

      August 12, 2012 at 8:31 pm |
    • therealpeace2all

      @Prayer changed my oil. Alleluia, amen.

      " He basically says Christianity is true, and valid, as it's more "useful"... a weird form of Utilitarianism. "

      I believe that would be the logic fallacy... 'argumentum ad consequentiam.' Good consequenses = truth.

      I watched the debate. You are correct... the look on Ehrman's face 'is' priceless. It's like... W – T – F ?!?!? 😯


      August 12, 2012 at 8:33 pm |
    • Cq

      Well, accomplishment using the vessel that God/nature provided, with years of dedicated training, excellent diet, medical care, superb equipment, rich sponsors and other financial support, great coaching, supportive family and employers, and the cheers of your entire country all backing you up, of course. Funny how some people only want to credit God for victories only possible through the impact of so many influences.

      August 13, 2012 at 1:18 am |
  15. Lynaldea

    GodFreeNow That's a complicated question to answer. I believe this "force" was actually around before, even in ancient times ,pyramids, batteries, sky gazing a.k.a knowledge of stars/alignments without telescopes, ancient tools ect, have all been found throughout the world. And I am almost positive there are more to be discovered. So really, the force we speak of has been around for a while, not just the past 100 years or so. However, the "exponential growth" that has been in place the last 100 years or so, technology, mars curiosity, moon landing, ect is obviously very impressive and fantastic.

    And to answer your last question, I believe it is both; the force drives intellect because what science wants to know and the answers we gain from it drives us to want more of those unanswered questions, answered.

    August 12, 2012 at 7:26 pm |
    • GodFreeNow

      I feel that you've woven quite and elaborate tale based on nothing more than belief, and I would guess that you've become quite comfortable with it. I have to admit I was actually surprised by your response. Few people have the courage to commit so completely to this kind of story and then also broadcast it to the public as you have, so I commend you for that.

      I feel I have to ask some other basic questions before I continue. Do you believe in fairies (or other so-called mythical creatures), or that intelligent aliens are visiting our planet and influencing the development of the human race?

      August 12, 2012 at 8:16 pm |
    • tallulah13

      There is something va.guely offensive and completely arrogant about the thought that humanity was not capable of hard work and observation thousands of years ago. Those who must attribute ancient achievements to supernatural powers are simply abdicating common sense and curiosity in favor of an easy answer.

      August 12, 2012 at 9:01 pm |
    • Cq

      The ancients were more advanced than you give them credit for. There is no basis for assuming that aliens must have gave our ancestors this knowledge.

      August 13, 2012 at 1:26 am |
  16. Jonathan

    The Greeks used Laurel for the victory wreaths-not olive branches or leaves. Also, defining αρετη simply as heroic courage is a poor expression of the word-virtuous excellence is a better translation.

    August 12, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
    • Cq

      Heroes were victorious, at least in legend, and many of the Greek legendary heroes were the half-human sons of gods, like Heracles, Perseus and Theseus. So, the link between being a hero and a god isn't so far removed.

      August 13, 2012 at 1:38 am |
    • Damocles


      Its only not so far off if its true.

      August 13, 2012 at 1:40 am |
    • Cq

      Who ever said that a culture's myths were "falsehoods". Romanticized versions of people's pasts, maybe, but what people have ever told their own history without making it sound better than it likely ever was?

      August 13, 2012 at 2:16 am |
  17. Lynaldea

    GodFreeNow, As I said above, I believe one of the main motivations of science is to gain more knowledge of the world around it, to understand it more. Further, its motives are to perhaps to understand humankinds place within that world of questions. I feel science attempts to answer all those questions that have no previous answers to them, and if there are better answers, they are easily replaced. Therefore, another motivation of science is to effectively produce its evolution to the direction that fits their desires of understanding the universe around them more.

    August 12, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
    • GodFreeNow

      Thank you for fleshing it out for me a little more, I will repost my follow up questions here:

      Do you believe that science is a force capable of reasoning? Or do you believe that the motivation of the people who use the scientific method as a means for exploration all have this one motivation?

      August 12, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
    • Lynaldea

      GodFreeNow I believe science is definitely a force capable of reasoning and sound logic and yes I also believe that there are many ways of people within the scientific realm to understand what it is they are exploring; i don't think there's one way to do anything, really.

      Answer, no I do not believe science in generally has a motive that states "religion is false because science exists".

      August 12, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
    • Answer


      Well good for you in understanding that. There is hope for you yet to free yourself of the other indoctrinations.

      August 12, 2012 at 7:17 pm |
    • Chad

      Not all scientists are atheists, Francis Collins for example (director of the Human Genome Project and Director of the National Institutes of Health is a outspoken Christian.

      take a look at http://biologos.org/

      God Bless

      August 12, 2012 at 7:19 pm |
    • Answer


      Your point?

      Ken Miller is an evolutionary scientist who holds his faith. He debunks the creationists' claims. Your point is moot.

      August 12, 2012 at 7:31 pm |
    • Lynaldea

      Answer, hah, see...we're already starting to make progress. science and believers can co-exist.

      August 12, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
    • Answer


      You see how little your mind sees the world as it actually is in some cases?

      There is a disconnect in your washy feeling ways: as human beings we will connect with each other, with the search of knowledge and the human drive for exploration. Those are always going to bring humanity to accept each other.

      Religious people will always turn the topic in hand to a subject to bring "hey now look where god can be into the picture."
      I see it constantly when bantering with religious dolts. The always present opportunity to plug for "that together with god".

      That part won't happen. Religion will divide.

      August 12, 2012 at 7:53 pm |
  18. Phil in Oregon

    "He just doesn't want you to know good and evil, like He does" "I shall set my throne above the throne of the most high"

    August 12, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
  19. Dennis

    What a load of crapolia. Impossible debt on the host country. The dishonest and corrupt officials playing politics with the games.
    the pathetic members of the IOC,FIFA and all! Drugging and doping constantly going on! It just shows we have not evolved at all!
    And yet this garbage is on the news.

    August 12, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV


      worse than that, this associate history professor (Dr. Joseph Loconte) sees it as the fulfillment of Jeremiah's prayer.

      There are some noble ideas with the Olympics. The idea that nations come together in peaceful sport is a nice idea. Only it doesn't happen. It becomes a proxy war of competing nationalism by medal count. "Mine's a better nation state than yours because my nation state won more medals."

      Things are probably better now than they were in the depths of cold war USA/CCCP Olympic compet'tion but now it's all about USA/China.

      My favorite Olympic quote was from one of the Byran brothers (who went on to win their first tennis doubles gold) "In the US, if you don't bring home the gold you're scum" and punctuated this with the thumb and index finger "loser" salute. So accurate, so sad.

      And swimmers who get to compete in a dozen events at every Olympics they attend, don't automatically get to be the greatest athlete of all time when they win more medals. Mr. Phelps, congratulations, your accomplishment is truly remarkable, but more swimming medals doesn't make you the greatest athelete of all time. Such an accolade is unsubstantiated.

      August 12, 2012 at 8:08 pm |
  20. Lynaldea

    GodFreeNow simple, the main motive of science is to gain knowledge, or of truth, by means of physical representation and observation of its intended subject. Science strives to understand all that which is does not previously understand by methods of mainly test, theory and experimentation. Science desires to physically see, if not touch, smell, taste, what its respected object is/are. Science ultimately wants to understand as much as possible, if not all, of the answers to the questions that arise.

    August 12, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
    • TheVocalAtheist

      Do you believe in psychics? Just curious.

      August 12, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Lynaldea. I would agree with that on some parts but now that so much of society's funding goes into science, we see compet'ition increasing between different insiti'tuions and also between companies. The current drug shortage is a example of such in that so much money goes into creating and putting out a drug to those that need it that companies are more protective and secreative of their products. The areas that fall under "trade secrets" used to deal with things such as jets and automobiles but now it is cancer drugs that are stiffled to get to the patients because some company paid its scientist millions of dollars to create and the same company must now protect its investments.

      The same can be seen in areas such as farming with companies such as Dow Chemical threatening farmers who purchase their seeds.

      I think there is still the science that you speak of but its quickly losing ground to the science of money and capital.

      August 12, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
    • Lynaldea

      TheVocalAtheist I believe in Deja Vu, yes.

      Mark from Middle River, of course there are "the science of art", or "the science of sports", or "the science of capitalism", or "the science of law", and so on. I agree with you. However, my comment was in response to generalized mainstream science.

      August 12, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
    • GodFreeNow

      @Lynaldea, You also mentioned its motivation... care to comment on that?

      August 12, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
    • GodFreeNow

      Sorry, I reread and found this "science is to gain knowledge, or of truth, by means of physical representation and observation of its intended subject"

      So, my question is... do you believe that science is a force capable of reasoning? Or do you believe that the motivation of the people who use the scientific method as a means for exploration all have this one motivation?

      August 12, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
    • Answer

      The better question is "do you believe that science -has it's motive- of solely to undermine your religion?"

      August 12, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
    • GodFreeNow

      @Lynaldea, Pulling from previous page...
      "God is just as real to me as the keys that I type to write these words, nothing more, nothing less."

      No doubt you meant to say, "God is just as real to me IN MY MIND as the keys that I type to write these words, nothing more, nothing less." since you wouldn't be capable of providing us with a photo or any other piece of physical evidence.

      August 12, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
    • Lynaldea

      GodFreeNow I believe science is definitely a force capable of reasoning and sound logic and yes I also believe that there are many ways of people within the scientific realm to understand what it is they are exploring; i don't think there's one way to do anything, really.

      Answer, no I do not believe science in generally has a motive that states "religion is false because science exists".

      August 12, 2012 at 7:10 pm |
    • GodFreeNow

      @Lynaldea, So this "force"... why does is only appear rather late in our evolution? And, is it the force that drives intellect or the intellect that drives the force?

      August 12, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
    • tallulah13

      I bet Lynaldea's midichlorian count is off the charts.

      August 12, 2012 at 9:03 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>>”However, my comment was in response to generalized mainstream science.”

      Lynaldea, what sector do you consider mainstream science that can say that it is immune to the influences of money and funding? Especially with NASA now outsourcing space to the private sector. This effectively puts that area of science into the same big business hands as other branches of science. Even issues as simple as the over medication of our children with behavior modifying drugs are now suspect because of the ties between the education system and the drug companies.

      I do believe there was a time when scientist did work wholly for the good of society but now I truly fear that part of the utopia of science has been invaded by corporate greed and compet'ition. I guess it is the same fear that is voiced in some churches when they grow to a point that they are edging into the mega church size.

      >>>”the main motive of science is to gain knowledge,”
      Philosophical question... if it is knowledge to save lives, that is a great thing. What about knowledge to take a life? If we compare the scientist of Saint Jude's Children's hospital and the scientist of the worlds military who are creating more efficient ways to kill people, can you hold pride in both forms of science quest for knowledge?

      Or a better...since health care and military are the top primary focuses of the fields of science, how to heal and how to kill... which would you consider more in-line with what you feel is “mainstream science”?

      August 13, 2012 at 2:44 am |
    • Cq

      Mark from Middle River
      Wouldn't it be fair to say that the science that improves our military equipment helps save the lives of our military personnel?

      August 14, 2012 at 12:26 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.